This past weekend, I attended a weaving demonstration sponsored by the Houston Arts Alliance. Weaving Home: Textile Traditions from Houston’s Karenni Community showcases the weaving process and textiles created by women refugees from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). For the Karenni, weaving is both a tradition from their homeland and a means of providing financial support for their families.
I had not fully appreciated that Houston is home to several refugee communities from across the globe. These men, women, and children flee their countries as a result of armed conflicts and other conditions difficult to imagine. A local organization, The Community Cloth, supports these refugee communities. Through seed grants, The Community Cloth empowers refugee women to create and sell their handmade crafts.
The live demonstration featured a Karenni weaver using a back strap loom. With her permission, I captured some shots of her at her craft. I found the movement of her hands to be almost poetic.
Click on any photo for a large-screen view.
The rest of the exhibition featured displays of beautiful woven textiles. Items included traditional clothing and bags, and more modern items such as table runners and scarves.
The craftsmanship was evident in the patterns and lively colors. I was able to touch the textiles and appreciate the delicacy of the fine threads. The materials varied but were mostly made of cotton and some synthetic blends.
The purchase of this incredibly soft woven scarf was my little contribution to the Karenni microenterprise.
The Houston Arts Alliance website has a section devoted to the Weaving Home exhibit which I highly encourage you to read. You can learn more about and sponsor a seed grant for women artisans at The Community Cloth.